Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>300BC W.Mexican warrior
Subject: warrior
Culture: West Mexican
Setting: Colima-Jalisco-Nayarit late 1m BC - early 1m AD

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)



* Heritage of power 2004 p30-31 (Kristi Butterwick, "Heritage of power in ancient West Mexico" p11-35) 
"Headgear probably carried codified information about its wearer's social rank, political office, or kin-group affiliation.  Male figures are depicted with one of several types of headgear ....  At times, the headbands of both male and female figures are appliquéd, painted, and elaborately decorated with such elements as disks, pendants, sashes, or tassels, and have an added long braid or rope that hangs down the figure's back.  On a few sculptures, long hair is shown wound around the headband, or turban; the incised hair alternates with the band of fabric.  Actual headbands and turbans were made of material woven from cotton or agave threads, of from animal pelts.  The male ceramic figures sometimes wear sculptural conical hats that have a headband base and appear to fold together in back for flexibility; this feature, along with their hatched patterns, probably indicates that actual hats were made of fabric or basketry, with a brim of feathers, tassels of other ornamentation.
    "Undoubtedly, specific forms of headgear signaled the wearers' key societal roles. For example, only shamans wore the one-horned headdress -- perhaps symbolic of the antler of a deer, which, studies of ancient shamans' costumes in Siberia suggest, was the personification of the sun deity -- that was usually integrated into a headband.  Some shaman figures wear imposing helmets decorated with an animal effigy that would have represented their totem or animal spirit.  Large appliquéd plant or floral motifs are a noticeably unusual adornment on headgear.  Similarly, depictions of fantastical feather headdresses imply that the wearer is a chief or spiritual leader; on these, elongated parallel elements, signifying feathers, protrude from a headband, sometimes upright and in vertical rows.  Bell-shaped helmets are seen exclusively on warrior figures, their shape perhaps serving a protective function; actual helmets of  this type likely were made of a tough material such as reinforced animal hide."


* Heritage of power 2004 p48 ("Catalogue" p37-91) (describing two warrior figures in Ameca-Etzatlán style)
"Clues as to how ancient West Mexicans dressed for battle are revealed by these two sculptures.  The bell-shaped helmets must have served as protection, and the patterns on the brims suggest that perhaps the actual helmets were made of basketry, or were woven from maguey fibers.  Similarly, the padded hip garments are decorated with black chevrons reminiscent of pre-Hispanic weavings. It may be informative that the upper armor has no patterns that would indicate weaving or basketry and its plain surfaces instead may represent a smooth animal hide.  The hip garments or shorts worn on top of the armor join the upper to the lower garment.  The appliquéd notches clearly depict points of connection -- perhaps strips of rawhide or a rope tying the two parts together."


* Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1963 p32
"Thanks to the wonderful hand made figurines it is known that inhabitants wore loin-cloths, which most often consisted of big sea-shells, held in place by a belt and covering the male sexual organs (possibly a fertility symbol), and that they painted their bodies, faces and hair in white, black and blue.  We also know that men painted their hair white and women painted it red."

* Heritage of power 2004 p28-29 (Kristi Butterwick, "Heritage of power in ancient West Mexico" p11-35) 
"Males frequently wear shorts, fastened by a belt with a tie or flap.  Actual trousers may have been made from woven fabric or animal pelts, and the trophy animal heads decorating some belts reinforce the pelt association.  Few male figures are depicted in a traditional Mexican loincloth -- a length of fabric that wrapped through the legs and around the waist.  Often, male garments include a scoop-shaped codpiece, resembling a shell or gourd, for extra padding.  In addition, male figures sometimes sport a tunic, or a cloak or mantle, draped over one shoulder."